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CD: Thomas Jefferson [Audio]
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About the Author

Jon Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize for American Lion, his bestselling 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson. He is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Franklin and Winston and American Gospel. Executive editor and executive vice president of Random House, Meacham is a contributing editor to Time magazine, a former editor of Newsweek, and has written for The New York Times and The Washington Post, among other publications. He is a regular contributor on Meet the Press, Morning Joe, and Charlie Rose, and is the editor at large of WNET, the New York public television station. Born in Chattanooga in 1969, Meacham was educated at The University of the South. He lives with his family in New York and in Tennessee.

Reviews

"Fascinating and insightful ... Many books have been written about Jefferson's life, but few have created such a vivid portrait ... Meacham immerses the reader in that period of history to explain Jefferson's behavior during an era when the nation was as contradictory as he was ... extraordinary ... essential."--The Associated Press

"[A]ccomplishes something more impressive than dissecting Jefferson's political skills by explaining his greatness, a different task from chronicling a life, though he does that too -- and handsomely. Even though I know quite a lot about Jefferson, I was repeatedly surprised by the fresh information Meacham brings to his work. Surely there is not a significant detail out there, in any pertinent archive, that he has missed."--Joyce Appleby, Washington Post

"[Meacham] argues persuasively that for Jefferson the ideal of liberty was not incompatible with a strong federal government, and also that Jefferson's service in the Congress in 1776 left him thoroughly versed in the ways and means of politics ... Meacham wisely has chosen to look at Jefferson through a political lens, assessing how he balanced his ideals with pragmatism while also bending others to his will. And just as he scolded Jackson, another slaveholder and champion of individual liberty, for being a hypocrite, so Meacham gives a tough-minded account of Jefferson's slippery recalibrations on race ... Where other historians have found hypocrisy in Jefferson's use of executive power to complete the Louisiana Purchase, Meacham is nuanced and persuasive.."--Jill Abramson, The New York Times Book Review

"[Meacham] does an excellent job getting inside Jefferson's head and his world ... Meacham presents Jefferson's life in a textured narrative that weaves together Jefferson's well-traveled career."--USA Today

"A big, grand, absorbing exploration of not just Jefferson and his role in history but also Jefferson the man, humanized as never before. [Grade: ] A-."--Entertainment Weekly

"Impeccably researched and footnoted ... a model of clarity and explanation."--Bloomberg

"[Meacham] captures who Jefferson was, not just as a statesman but as a man ... By the end of the book, as the 83-year-old Founding Father struggles to survive until the Fourth of July, 1826, the 50th anniversary of his masterful Declaration, the reader is likely to feel as if he is losing a dear friend ... [an] absorbing tale."--Christian Science Monitor

"Absorbing . . . Jefferson emerges in the book not merely as a lofty thinker but as the ultimate political operator, a master pragmatist who got things done in times nearly as fractious as our own."--Chicago Tribune

"[Jefferson's] life is a riveting story of our nation's founding--an improbable turn of events that seems only in retrospect inevitable. Few are better suited to the telling than Jon Meacham. . . . Captivating."--The Seattle Times "[Meacham] brings to bear his focused and sensitive scholarship, rich prose style ... The Jefferson that emerges from these astute, dramatic pages is a figure worthy of continued study and appreciation ... [a] very impressive book."--Booklist (Starred Review) "An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson's core that accounts for so much of his political success."--Kirkus Reviews "Jon Meacham understands Thomas Jefferson. With thorough and up-to-date research, elegant writing, deep insight, and an open mind, he brings Jefferson, the most talented politician of his generation--and one of the most talented in our nation's history--into full view. It is no small task to capture so capacious a life in one volume. Meacham has succeeded, giving us a rich presentation of our third president's life and times. This is an extraordinary work."--Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello

"This terrific book allows us to see the political genius of Thomas Jefferson better than we have ever seen it before. In these endlessly fascinating pages, Jefferson emerges with such vitality that it seems as if he might still be alive today."--Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals "Jon Meacham resolves the bundle of contradictions that was Thomas Jefferson by probing his love of progress and thirst for power. Here was a man endlessly, artfully intent on making the world something it had not been before. A thrilling and affecting portrait of our first philosopher-politician."--Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra: A Life "A true triumph. In addition to being a brilliant biography, this book is a guide to the use of power. Jon Meacham shows how Jefferson's deft ability to compromise and improvise made him a transformational leader. We think of Jefferson as the embodiment of noble ideals, as he was, but Meacham shows that he was a practical politician more than a moral theorist. The result is a fascinating look at how Jefferson wielded his driving desire for power and control."--Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs "This is probably the best single-volume biography of Jefferson ever written; it is certainly the most readable."--Gordon Wood, author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution "This is Jon Meacham's best book yet. Evocatively written and deeply researched, it sheds brilliant light on facets of Thomas Jefferson we haven't seen before, gives us original and unexpected new insights into his identity and character, and uses the irresistible story of this talented, manipulative, complicated man to bring us life lessons on universal subjects from family and friendship to politics and leadership. The Sage of Monticello made a considerable effort to turn his life into a mystery, but in a splendid match of biographer with subject, Meacham has cracked the Jefferson code."--Michael Beschloss

Another Jefferson biography (right on the heels of Henry Wiencek's Master of the Mountain)! Fortunately, Meacham's is a fine work, deserving a place high on the list of long biographies of its subject even if rivaled by such shorter ones as Richard B. Bernstein's Thomas Jefferson. Like David McCullough's John Adams (to which it can be seen as a counterpart), Meacham's book is a love letter to its subject. While he's fully conversant with long-held skepticism about aspects of Jefferson's character (his dissimulation, for instance) and his stance toward slavery, Meacham gives him the benefit of the doubt throughout (on, for example, his Revolutionary War governorship of Virginia and the draconian 1807 embargo). To Meacham, who won a Pulitzer for his American Lion, Jefferson was a philosopher/politician, and "the most successful political figure of the first half century of the American republic." Those words only faintly suggest the inspirational tone of the entire work. Meacham understandably holds Jefferson up as the remarkable figure he was. But in the end, as fine a rendering of the nation's third president as this book may be, it comes too close to idolization. Jefferson's critics still have something valid to say, even if their voices here are stilled. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pulitzer Prize-winner Meacham (executive editor & executive vice president, Random House; American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House) claims that previous Jefferson scholars have not grasped the authentic Jefferson. Meacham unmasks a power-hungry, masterful, pragmatic leader who was not above being manipulative to achieve his goal: an enduring, democratic republic defined by him. A brilliant philosopher whose lofty principles were sometimes sidelined for more realistic goals, Meacham's Jefferson, neither idol nor rogue, is a complex mortal with serious flaws and contradictions. Despite his dedication to human liberty, he would not impose practical measures to end slavery. Here, Jefferson's political instincts trumped his moral and philosophical beliefs, and he lived uncomfortably with that contradiction, believing that slavery would eventually end but unable to create a balance between human freedom and political unity. Meacham believes that what some recent writers have viewed as hypocrisy was actually genius. Failing to solve the conundrum of slavery, Jefferson creatively and successfully applied power, flexibility, and compromise in an imperfect world. VERDICT General and academic readers will find a balanced, engaging, and realistic treatment of the forces motivatingthe third President, the subject of unending fascination and debate. [See Prepub Alert, 5/10/12.]-Margaret Kappanadze, Elmira Coll. Lib., NY (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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